As people around the globe celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, we are taking a moment to highlight the many achievements of women of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A diverse and accomplished group, Emirati women are behind some of the most promising and forefront technologies that may one day be found in hospitals, schools, and offices around the world. As examples, Maythaa Abdullah is the inventor of a robot for autistic children that she is programming to speak Arabic; Fatima Al Zaabi has designed cutting-edge software to complement Microsoft’s PowerPoint, which allows for the creation of architectural sketches through the software; and Asma bin Tamim is the mastermind behind an innovative revenue management system being used by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority.
These women are on their way to joining the ranks of prominent Emirati women representing their country on the world’s stage. HRH Princess Haya, the wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, gave a stirring speech to the international community in 2013 that helped Dubai claim the honor of hosting the 2020 Expo. Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, the CEO of TECOM Business Parks, will be taking a leading role in facilitating Dubai’s construction boom prior to the Expo, adding to her prowess as a world-renowned leader in business. In science, Dr. Maryam Matar, the founder of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association, was recently named one of the Most Influential Women in Science in the Muslim World.
Emirati women make up 59% of the National workforce, where they contribute to and lead teams within the engineering, media, IT, law, academia, and oil sectors. They comprise 60% of the public sector, including 30% of its senior positions and 15% of jobs in public-run medicine, nursing, and pharmacy services. Emirati women also account for 37.5% of labor in the banking sector.
The entrepreneurial landscape in the UAE is also promising for Emirati women. It is estimated that 12,000 Emirati women have already invested AED12 billion (over USD3.2 billion) in their economy. Seventy percent of university graduates in the UAE are female, and a recent study found that sixty-eight percent of female graduates surveyed intend to transition into the workforce upon graduation. These stats point to robust participation by women in the Emirati economy and society.
A recent study commissioned by the Government of Dubai and the Dubai Women Establishment found that Emirati women, like their counterparts around the world, have overcome many hardships in the workplace, yet still face challenges.
The UAE Government is addressing the challenges women face by implementing flexible work arrangements, such as job sharing, compressed or staggered hours, and telecommuting, helping to champion women in the workplace. The conversation and steps to improve women’s advancement in the workplace is taking place every day in the UAE and across the globe – but now with more frequency than just once a year on a day dedicated to women’s issues. In the Middle East, the UAE is at the forefront of seeking to assist and advance women to effectively contribute to the development of their economy and society.
Happy International Women’s Day from Edelman Middle East!